One afternoon while in Sacred Valley, Peru, we visited the market in downtown Urubamba. As I explained in my last honeymoon post, Sacred Valley is a section of Peru made up of smaller towns and villages consisting of Urubamba, Aguas Calientes, Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and more. We stayed in Urubamba and met a local who agreed to show us around one of the days. He took us into downtown Urubamba which, luckily for us, was having its weekly Wednesday market.
Once a week everyone gathers in the downtown center to spread out the week’s harvest. I’ve never seen so many kinda of produce, meats, and foods being sold in one place. Because of the abundance of farming they do in the valley, there is every kind of fruit, vegetable, and grain you can imagine. They harvest over 4,000 kinds of potatoes and 55 varieties of corn alone!
The Sacred Valley was once the fertile and spiritual base of the Incan Empire. They grew corn, coca, potatoes, and so on, in terraced mountain slopes. Today, farmers use the same methods to work the fields, unchanged since the ancient Incan times to grow the same produce as well as new and exotic fruit and vegetable varieties. Visiting the market was definitely a highlight of our trip as it allowed us a more close-up look into the daily lives of the people who live and work in the Sacred Valley.
After walking the streets and trying a few of the local items, our guide, Marco, told us he had another market to take us to. Just outside the city was the “animal and food” market. Set into the rocky slopes, this market rivaled the other with hoards of animals for sale instead of produce. You could buy just about any livestock you wanted from chicken and pigs to dogs, Guinea pigs, and goats. Additionally, there was a long row of what were, essentially, small “restaurants,” where people setup make-shift grills and grilled meats and vegetables. It was a little bit of a shock for Michael and I to see animal tied to posts, crammed into cages, and shoved into bags to be sold. But, it is part of the adventure of traveling, to be dropped into another culture where their norms are different than ours back home.
As per usual, one of my highlights was getting to snuggle up on something soft and fluffy – today being this tiny pup we found wandering about. There were so many dogs throughout all of Peru, but in the Sacred Valley many weren’t strays as we imagined. While you could find dogs roaming the streets just about everywhere you turned, Marco explained that almost all of them had homes they went back to at night to be fed and cared for. In Cusco (which I’ll share coming up soon) the case was different, he explained. Many of the dogs on the streets there don’t have any home. He told us how the stray dog problem in Cusco was much more of an issue.
We finished the day off by heading back into downtown Urubamba where Marco took us to his friend’s shop where he told salt from the local salt flats. And, if you asked real nice, he’d pour you a warm glass of the Peruvian beer.
If you missed it you can see my post about our day in Lima in the Barranco District, or see a recap of Hotel B in Lima. Or, learn more about the Alpacas of Sacred Valley (and how I convinced one to kiss me).